"I think owning your home with a yard that creates a buffer zone from
your neighbors has many benefits not found on a balance sheet."
That is a large part of what I'm saying. There are many, many reasons that owning a home creates pleasure and gives value. But the home as 'investment' argument, to me is seriously overdone. Home as an investment IMO requires the same kind of DD and frugal buying that is done with any investment. Buy a repo at 50% of the usual market value, then repair and update, doing all the work with some subcontracting yourself, and the home could easily give a 2x-3x return in 10 years.
I wonder how much of home appreciation is a result of the fact that most homes flip every five years or less and each time a real estate agent gets 6-7% of the selling cost.